Readability is an essential factor in ensuring that you are able to reach a broader and more diverse audience with the content on your website. Therefore, in order for your content to reach with a more general audience, it’s crucial that your content is easily understood and straight to point so that your audience will be able to engage with, and get the most out of the material you provide on your site, which will have a positive impact on the SEO of your page.
If you want to get a better knowledge and in-depth understanding of readability, what it is, why it’s essential for the best On-Page SEO practices and how you can take active measures to improve the readability and readability score of your website content, then you may want to carry on reading.
What is readability?
Readability is a term used to refer to the ease at which your audience is able to understand the content that you provide on your website. Readability can refer to both the language of the material that is produced as well as other factors concerning the format of which the content is presented in such as the size, colour and font.
Readability for SEO is the practice of ensuring that any content on your website is both easy to read and understand for your target audience. For your site to have excellent readability, your content should be focused on providing your audience with all the information they need on their search query in a clear and concise manner, with the material focusing on both the user experience and the user intent behind the search query.
Why is readability important for SEO?
It may already be common knowledge to you that poor content is bad for user experience, but why is poor content with bad readability terrible for SEO? Well, we’ll tell you.
By providing users with poor content and therefore a poor experience of your website, while you’re likely to still receive clicks from the search engine results pages through to your page, you’re unlikely to get users to stay on your site. Instead, if you don’t provide the content that they’re looking for you’ll find that they’ll click right back to the SERP that referred you to them in the first place and find another page that has the information that they’re looking for. In SEO this term is what is called a ‘bounce’, meaning that when directed to your website from the SERP a user viewed one page before they navigated away from your website.
The higher your bounce rate is, then search engines such as Google take notice of this, as bounce rates are one of the user signals (along with exit rate), which can ultimately affect your ranking. This is because a high bounce rates indicate to search engines users aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your website and therefore your site is not as relevant to that search term as it perhaps thought it was, leading to a drop in your rank for your targeted keyword.
The whole intention behind creating content and copy for your website is to both appeal and engage with your target audience when they are on your site, providing them with exactly what content they are looking to find and ensuring that your content is able to appeal to as wide of an audience as it possibly can.
In order for you to appeal to a wide audience, it is essential that the content you produce for your website is of a high quality and easily to comprehend ensuring that it doesn’t alienate your audience with heavy industry jargon, or by being unnecessarily complicated.
One thing that is important for you to remember is that the more you over complicate the material on your website, the narrower your audience will get. Although simplifying you content may seem counterproductive at first, as you want to prove to search engines your expertise on the subject, you still need to make your content accessible and understandable to users. That’s why if you wish to appeal to a wider audience, it’s essential that you make your content as easy and concise to read as possible, even when you’re already talking about a complicated subject.
What is a readability score?
In order for you to understand the readability of your content, and identify which areas of your content you need to improve on, it is recommended that you use a readability test and try using tools which will provide you with a grade or a score which represents how difficult it would be for someone to read and understand your content.
How do I find my readability score?
Although there are many different types of readability scales and tests, including – SMOG and the Fry readability tests. The most common and readily used readability tests are the Flesch-Kincaid and the Flesch Reading Ease tests. And there are many ways and readability checkers which use these scales which you can use to check the readability of your content quickly and sufficiently, and here are just a few of the most natural methods:
- Microsoft word: If you use Word to type out your content before you upload it, then you can find your readability grade from selecting ‘Show readability statistics’ box in the File > Options > Proofing tab. Microsoft word uses
- Grammarly: If you prefer to use the browser app when writing to check your content while you're writing it in your browser then you can check your readability by clicking on the ‘Performance’ section in the app. Grammarly’s readability score uses the Flesch Reading Ease scale.
- Our SEO Checker: Alternatively, you can use our free SEO audit to receive your readability score in addition to your free report identifying any other issues which could be potentially affecting the overall optimisation of your website.
What is a good readability score?
Depending on which test you use to determine the readability of your content, the score or grade you receive from a readability checker will differ on what each test considers to be a ‘good’ readability score. However, if we take a look at the Flesch Reading Ease, then you can expect that a score between 60 and 70, (depending on the complexity of the subject matter), is what you should be aiming for.
With the Flesch-Kincaid Readability Grade (which should be noted isn’t the same as the Flesch Reading Ease), ratings are given as grades instead of numbers, indicating the amount of education that someone would need to understand the content. For instance, if you receive a grade of 7, then you can expect that someone with at least seven years of education would be able to read your work. Therefore, you should be aiming for a grade of between 7 and 8.
By striving for these scores and achieving as close to these scores as possible, you will ultimately ensure that your content is able to be understood by 80% of people who speak the language that you write in.
How do I improve my readability score?
If you’ve checked your readability grade and you’ve found that your content is slightly tricky to read, there’s no need to panic, or completely overhaul the content that you’ve spent ages on. Instead, you can significantly improve your readability by making a few small changes such as the following:
- Use shorter sentences and paragraphs – shorter paragraphs and sentences are usually easier to read and more comfortable to follow.
- Ensure your work in straight to the point – make sure your content gives information in a concise and straightforward method, without being unnecessarily complicated or veering off onto different subjects.
- Tone down the jargon – this can be a complicated one as it can be challenging to stay away from industry jargon depending on the context of the content, but try to avoid words and phrases that only experts on your subject would know.
- Use words with fewer syllables – you may find this odd, but it helps! Try to stick to words with 1-3 at the most, and this should significantly improve the readability.
- Check the format of your content – is the text so small that users need to magnify the page? Alternatively, are you using an unusual font that perhaps users may find it difficult to read? Then ensure that you change these to improve the user experience of your content.
Need Some Examples?
If you’re still struggling to come to terms with what an example of the type of content that has good readability so that you can emulate the tone, here are three cases with varying levels of complexity. What you want to aim for when creating good content is content that is not unnecessarily complicated but neither oversimplified. Here are three Flesch-Kincaid Readability and Flesch reading ease examples with accompanying scores.
For example, as per in this piece of written text, I determined to use more complex language, in addition to lengthy sentences; which needless to say, over-complicate this needlessly cumbersome example of a low score on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale. Lower scores on the scale are indicative of pieces of material that are harder to decipher and necessitate either a more advanced degree of education or substantial knowledge of the industry of the subject matter. Content that extensively features convoluted articulation can disrupt and distort the motion of the narrative, resulting in less engagement and interaction with the content and less time spent on the webpage.
Flesch-Kincaid Readability Grade: 19
Flesch Reading Ease Score: 24
In this example, I have tried to use everyday language, with average lengthed sentences. When writing content for SEO, it is a good idea to aim for a readability score of between 60-70, depending on your subject. Any copy that you create which has a score of 60-70 is likely to be understood by 80% of English speakers and will get better engagements with a wider audience than the other two examples.
Flesch-Kincaid Readability Grade: 10.7
Flesch Reading Ease Score: 60
In this text, I have used easy words and short sentences. Making the example too easy to read and the score high. Big scores show text that is easy to read. You need little schooling or know how of the subject. Text that uses too easy words can feel childish. This can lead to people clicking off your page.
Flesch-Kincaid Readability Grade: 2.8
Flesch Reading Ease Score: 91
Creating Content with Great Readability Isn’t Hard When You Know How
Now you’ve read how to create content with great readability for both user experience and SEO, then the only thing that’s left to do is start creating content, just remember our tips, and you’ll have no problems.